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Pierce, James score 14 each in the fourth

1/3/2004

CHICAGO (AP) -- Paul Pierce told Mike James he couldn't do it
alone, that he needed some help Saturday night. And James was
listening.

"He was big. Coming out for the fourth quarter I called him
'Fourth Quarter Mike' and he responded," Pierce said. "I told him
I needed him in this quarter and he delivered."

Pierce and James had 14 points each in the final quarter -- James
scored 12 straight Boston points at one juncture -- and the Celtics
rallied to beat the Chicago Bulls 88-77.

Boston overcame a nine-point second quarter -- its lowest scoring
quarter of the season -- and a 15-point deficit to post the victory.

"We played so poorly, we were really disappointed in the first
half. We had good looks and didn't knock down shots," said Pierce,
who finished with 33 points. "We knew we would get back in the
game in the second half if we got the same opportunities. We just
stuck with it."

The Celtics shot 52 percent in the second half, while the Bulls
were 9-of-40 (23 percent) in the final two quarters. Boston
outscored Chicago 57-33 in the second half.

The Bulls, who were just 1-of-16 on 3-pointers in the game, were
led by 16 points from Jamal Crawford.

"When most teams come back we start playing more cautious and
on our heels," Crawford said. "They did what they had to do. We
got ice cold basically. Pierce got hot and James made some tough
shots."

James hit a pair of 3-pointers, two other jumpers and two free
throws to score 12 straight Celtics points and put Boston up 75-69
with just over four minutes left.

"The ball found me a couple of times for some open looks and
then I just got into a rhythm and started playing with a little
more energy," said James, 6-for-11 from the field.

After James' 12-point outburst, Pierce made two free throws, a
jumper and an impressive dunk after a crossover and the Celtics had
an 11-point lead.

After their poor second quarter, the Celtics rallied in the
third behind 10 points from Pierce to get within one when the Bulls
made just 4-of-22 field-goal attempts.

The Bulls, with Eddie Robinson getting nine points, outscored
the Celtics 23-9 in the second quarter -- Boston's lowest scoring
period of the season -- to take a 44-31 lead.

The Celtics were just 3-for-21 from the field (14 percent) in
the second period and their 31 points tied a season low for a
half.

Game notes
Vin Baker, who had started in all 33 of the games he'd
played this season, didn't start Saturday night as the Celtics went
for more mobility. Walter McCarty started in his place and finished
with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Baker entered the game in the
second quarter. ... The Celtics couldn't get out of Boston after
Friday night's loss to the Pacers when their plane was fogged in.
So, they had to wait until Saturday and didn't get into Chicago
until after 3 p.m. ... Coach Scott Skiles is putting Eddy Curry
through extra drills to improve his conditioning. What did Curry
think when Skiles said he wasn't in shape? "I took it as the
truth," Curry said, adding that his conditioning really took a hit
when he missed seven games recently with a sore left knee. Curry's
extra work didn't pay off Saturday night. In 17 minutes, he had
five fouls, six points and missed four free throws.